President Kovind? Opposition to decide on June 22; TMC prefers Sushma, Advani

With RSS setting the broad contours - that the candidate should be a Dalit, or a Tribal, must have a saffron hue, should be a senior well-read politician and non-controversial - the party brass went about seeking the views of the Opposition.

Despite a majority, the BJP reached out to all the political parties "in the spirit of democracy", the urban development minister said.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said the way Kovind's name was announced it portends that there would be a political contest.

Notably, BJP National President today announced Bihar Governor Ramnath Kovind as its candidate for next President of India.

"The parties will meet and decide whether or not to field a consensus opposition candidate for the July 17 presidential election", Agarwal said. "Shri Kovind's knowledge and understanding of the Constitution will benefit the nation", the PM tweeted. Mamata Banerjee and Congress President Sonia Gandhi will be left red faced now as BJP has already got the required mandate and Ram Nath Kovind may have an easy access to the President House.

The Sena will take a final decision on Wednesday regarding its support to 71-year-old Kovind, who is the governor of Bihar.

A sulking Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray disapproved of caste being the basis for Presidency.

Kovind's name was a surprise to even those within the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) who wanted somebody with a Hindutva image. Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister H.N. Anantha Kumar, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and BJP chief whip Rakesh Singh arrange for the other signatures on these papers.

JD (U) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also expressed his "personal happiness" but did not commit his party's support.

He was speaking to the media here after congratulating Kovind.

"We don't want to talk about his (Kovind's) personality but will talk on merit".

To enable these numbers to come to parliament, electoral constituencies are reserved for them. "Despite differences we have to take all parties into confidence". Sources say that a Dalit Presidential candidate from UP will provide a "healing" touch to the recent incidents of Thakur-Dalit clashes in Saharanpur/Meerut. But it seemed confident that it had managed to unsettle the Opposition and strike the right note with its allies. "It is a political fight. We are not commenting or giving any character certificate to anyone". "All the opposition parties had collectively decided on evolving a consensus on the Presidential candidate when leaders of 18 parties met recently", Azad said.

Kovind served two terms in the Rajya Sabha member (1994-2006) and was member of a number of parliamentary committees, including home, welfare of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and Hindi Shiksha Samiti. He has been a promoter by calling and has honed both in Delhi high court and Supreme Court.